Leica M11 Reviews

A review of the Leica M11 by our Leica Ambassadors and members of the Leica Guild.

As we prepare for the launch of the new Leica M11, our Leica M ambassadors and members of the Leica Guild had the opportunity to test drive the camera. If you are considering the Leica M11, have a read at what our ambassadors and guild have to say about the new camera! 

Leica M11

AVI YAP (@avi_yap)
Leica Guild Member

I have always been an advocate of the idea that the M system is a camera system that teaches you photography. And for those who aren’t very familiar as to why I say that, hear me out.

You see, with all the modern technological advances in recent years, it is easy to get lost in all the gizmos and cool features that don’t really help your photography. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure those features are, and will be very useful in situations when you need them, but more often than you think, you won’t need them. While some might argue that the long tradition of the stripped downed features on a Leica M is nothing more than a marketing trick, I really beg to differ. In my humble opinion, I think that because the camera is so heavily focused on only “the essentials” which is basically just the “Exposure Triangle”, the way you shoot will change and gravitate towards just getting your exposure right and spending time on your composition or other things that are actually important in photography. Of course you can do that with any camera, even with your phone, But what I am saying is that with a camera that boasts a lot of features, the majority will spend too much time on what settings to use, what modes to be in, what kind of focus settings to use, etc, rather than actually taking the shot.

Now I can go on and on, on why I think the M camera is for me but I know you are here for what I feel about the new Leica M11. Well, simply put, I think it is great. I think it is Leica’s take on what a modern camera should be like. 

"The M11 still stays true to its tradition on focusing only on what is essential to photography, but at the same time adding the right amount of features/design tweaks that actually help improve your shooting/productivity. "

For starters, the camera now has a new variable sensor that allows photographers to choose the best amount of resolution needed for his/her work. In previous generations, you’d either have to shoot in RAW/DNG to get the most out of your sensor or in JPG for manageable file sizes. But we all know that with JPG formats, the photographer loses a lot of precious information with this file type. Now with the variable sensor, you can get insane amounts of information from the DNG files from the 60MP sensor, or choose from the lower options, 36MP and 18MP respectively while still retaining industry standard amounts of information and flexibility for post production, as they are still DNG file types. Of course the camera still has JPG options should you need them. This doesn’t just allow flexibility during shoots, this change also helps save a lot of precious storage space. 

Another great new improvement are for those that love to shoot at wide open apertures for that beautiful shallow depth of field look. The new M11 can now shoot at a shutter speed of 1/16000 sec. Not only that, Leica also further reduced the base ISO to 64, from its previous 100. This allows the photographer to shoot at wide open apertures even at the brightest of conditions without the need for a Neutral Density Filters(ND Filters). I wasn’t surprised Leica made this improvement judging by the fact that Leica has an incredible line up of lenses that can go down pretty wide open. I personally am very happy for this change as I’m an avid user of the Noctilux 50mm f0.95 lens. 

"Before, I had to stop down when shooting outdoors in the day, compromising on my original vision for my image. But now I can shoot an image exactly how I envisioned it originally without the fear to have to compromise due to the limitations of the camera. That to me, is really important. I want to use a camera that allows me to bring my vision to life. And with this new M11, I can."

Shot on Leica M11
Shot on Leica M11
Shot on Leica M11

Shot on Leica M11

Other improvements include the ability to now connect your camera to any device with a USB-C cable for high speed transfers. While that seems exciting, the feature that excites me the most is the fact that I can now charge my camera on the go with a portable power bank. I cannot express how useful this is when you are out on locations, where power sockets are scarce. Another new feature that might be a bit of a controversy is the removal of the bottom plate in exchange for the quick access battery just like the ones they have on the Leica Q and Leica SL systems. While I personally like the bottom plate from previous generations, I think the Leica Community has somehow over romanticised it. Yes, I think the bottom plate is a cool nod to it’s own heritage, but you cannot deny that it does nothing to help in productivity. After using the M11 for quite awhile before the launch, I really got to understand why this new feature is not a bad idea after all. As a professional photographer working through sets or out on the streets, the ability to quickly access and change my battery on the go, without having to worry about an extra hardware that I could potentially lose is really relieving and helpful. I’m not saying one is better than the other, like I said, I personally also like the bottom plate as I have shot the film Leica’s for many years. But it really is not a bad idea after all. This design change is really targeted at those who really use the camera day in and day out. So, I am okay with both and I wouldn’t say it’s straying off from its heritage. 

So that is my short review of the M11. Like I said, I think Leica kept the M11 true to it’s tradition, but added a few touches to keep it’s iconic system up with the times. I really believe that these new changes and improvements, will help photographers to shoot better without compromise, as well as increase productivity for those working professionals. All in all, It’s about choosing the right tool for your job. And for me, I think the M11 will be a great tool for a lot of people.

ADELE CHAN (@adele__chan)
Leica M Ambassador

The Leica M11 is faster, lighter and extremely quiet, making it the ideal camera for shooting discreetly in all situations. The new 60MP sensor also takes incredibly clear pictures, even in the lowest lighting conditions. 

Shot on Leica M11
Shot on Leica M11
Shot on Leica M11

I did a test shoot at a construction site and it captured the surrounding ambient light beautifully, with no visible colour noise. And as part of the legacy M system, it stays true to the classic dials and manual controls that are not overly complicated and feel natural to use. For existing M users, you’ll love and appreciate the improvements; for new users, it’ll make you a better photographer. 

TAY KAY CHIN (@kaychin)
Leica M User

For more than a decade, I have been obsessed with one personal mission - Finding Naoko.

Armed with my trusted Leica rangefinder and mostly the standard 50mm lens, I have traversed the globe, going from one city to another in search of the elusive woman. Just exactly who is she? Do I even know how she looks like? Will I know it if I really meet her? Perhaps I don’t really want to succeed, for what we can’t find is always the most beautiful.

To mark the launch of the new M11, I shot a new set of images with it, fitted mostly with a 90mm.

Like a trusted and loyal friend, the Leica M is constantly evolving without abandoning you. While the new M11 still works like my trusty M6, many of the changes are essential in making sure that you have room to grow without having to change the way you make pictures.

The ultra big sensor and 60MP specification mean you can make even larger prints without tweaking the files too much. I won't miss the removal of the legendary baseplate because the new battery design is sleek and logical. Those who need the extra reasons will appreciate the new touchscreen interface while traditionalists like me have the option of just sticking to the basic.

So other than the fact that the M11 is the latest iteration of the legendary M system, the way things should be have not changed. I'm still in charge of my craft. I still have the world's best technologies behind me.

Why change for the sake of right?

Now will I get the new M11? Maybe I already did :)

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